A Garden Favorite


 Photo credit: Janet Loughrey
On May 25, my garden was open for the first time to the public. In preparation for the garden tour, a fundraiser for the Rogerson Clematis Collectionin Lake Oswego, I redesigned a good portion of my garden in the three months leading up to the tour. Not something I recommend for the faint of heart or for those with bad backs if you’re doing a lot of the work yourself. Feedback from visitors was positive and affirming—they liked the garden as much as I did! One of the most asked about parts of the garden was the area with the raised beds tucked into a part sun corner of my yard.
The area is comprised of a graveled area with three raised round beds backed by a painted plywood panel and surrounded by planted beds (the bed on the left is a mixed bed with lots of edibles and a few ornamentals).
The raised beds are 4-foot diameter galvanized stock tanks I purchased at Wilco, a farm and feed store with multiple locations in Oregon. I sprayed them with a gray primer suitable for adhering to galvanized metal and then with two coats of a hammered copper colored spray paint (they probably could use a third coat). After punching holes in the bottom of each tank for drainage and leveling them adequately, I filled them with Scottish Blend soil from MacFarlane’s Bark. It took just shy of a yard of soil for each. 
Originally, I wanted a round bed with a keyhole entry to maximize the planting space. John Stone, owner of JP Stone Contractors, and I considered several alternatives including 18-inch steel edging and stacked rock, but this was the least expensive solution, gave me the most planting space, was easiest on the back to garden in,  and actually does a better job of keeping my adorable golden retriever out of the strawberries, peas, carrots, chard, lettuce, arugula and cilantro I have planted.
Also of interest to visitors was the bright painted panel behind the raised beds. Kristine Hanson, a landscape designer now with Prograss, made the panel for a Yard, Garden & Patio Show Showcase Garden several years ago. She cut a design in plywood and gave it a good coat of bright yellowish-green paint. I put a new coat of paint on it and Garden Gallery Ironworks made a black metal stand to keep it off the ground. It provides a wonderful focal point and hides a mound of straw, which I use mixed with soil in my potato cages, and a stack of tomato cages yet to be used this season.
Voila!